Philadelphia is a diverse city spread across many ethnic neighborhoods. According to the 2010 Census, Philadelphia’s population is about 40% white, 43% African American, and 6% Asian. About 12% of Philadelphia's population identify as Hispanic or Latino. The city is home to the nation’s second largest Irish and Italian communities and the nation’s fourth largest African American and Polish communities.
America’s sixth largest city, Philadelphia has nonetheless seen its population drift steadily downward from a high of over two million in 1950 to just over 1.5 million as of 2010. There are signs, however, of revival of Philadelphia’s urban core. Michael Nutter, elected Mayor of Philadelphia in January 2008, has set a goal to increase the city’s population by 75,000 over the next five-to-ten years. He has also pledged support for a range of community wealth building initiatives including technical assistance for Philadelphia CDCs and full funding for the City’s Housing Trust Fund.
The City of Brotherly Love is home to a number of innovative community wealth building initiatives. One example is provided by the University of Pennsylvania, which has shifted over 10 percent of its annual purchasing to local vendors, thus injecting an estimated $80 million into the West Philadelphia economy in 2006-2007 and thereby generating jobs for residents in these low-income areas. The University plans to increase this amount to $120 million by 2010. However, along with the successful revitalization of West Philadelphia, Penn’s efforts have also led to gentrification, with rising property values forcing out some unprotected low-income residents. Going forward, the university faces a delicate balancing act between continued growth and development and protecting low- and moderate-income families who live there.
Another unique project that has helped transform the city is Philadelphia Green, the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society’s extensive urban greening project,. Since 1974, Philadelphia Green has partnered with residents, community organizations, government, businesses, and other service agencies to maintain city parks, clean four million square feet throughout many neighborhoods, and address the problem of vacant land throughout the city.
An overview of community wealth building efforts follows: